Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Mother Goose’s Redemption

I tried to be as quick and nimble as Jack, but I tripped over the candlestick and nearly broke my back.

I tried to wake Little Boy Blue, but I lay down beside him and fell asleep too.

I tried to be a good boy like Little Jack Horner, but then I got to wondering why I was always in the corner.

Then I realized that trying to be someone else was a waste of my time and suddenly my life stopped feeling like a nursery rhyme.

Posted in Musings

Indiferencia Se Mata – The Quiet in the Land

My good friend, Verle, may he rest in peace, had a saying that he learned from his Latino friends that he would share often as we would strive to work outside in the West Virginia wilderness within the great buzzing clouds of gnats.

“Indiferencia se mata.”

“Indifference kills them.”

In other words, if you ignore the gnats, they won’t bother you.

Now there is no question in my mind that Verle’s mental capacity far outstripped my own so maybe it worked for him. Though he still would wear a bug net over his head when he was working outside. But in all honesty I really do think he reached a point where even in the midst of a buzzing cloud, the gnats had ceased to exist, at least for him.

I am wondering if perhaps the above adage might be worth applying to the seemingly endless negative rhetoric streaming from a certain White (Supremacist) House. (Or to any such useless drivel). In this age of the 24/7 news cycle and our ability to respond in an instant through social media to anything deemed disagreeable, it is far too easy to give attention to that which probably should be ignored.

Hear these words from Helen Keller:

“It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui.”

So the question becomes, what or where or to whom are we expending our limited energy and resources?

Sometimes I wonder if our initial response is simply to alleviate our guilt at not being able to take the necessary steps towards lasting change within or without.

There, I wasn’t silent. I said something. I’ve done my part. Now on to the next tweet. Hey you, asshole, learn to drive!

Hmm, I wonder. Each day is an opportunity to become a better person, and to the best of our limited ability, to make the world around us a better place.

Am I becoming a better person? Am I treating the people around me with kindness and respect? Am I becoming less of a jerk? Am I gentler with my myself and others? Am I helping to make this world a better place?

If, at the end of the day, I can answer yes to these questions, then for that day at least I can say that I am on the right track.

I wonder what would happen to me and the world around me if I would spend more time in prayer and praise than I do in reacting to yet another ignorant comment or bit of negative rhetoric.

Christ have mercy.

Posted in Leaves on the Poet Tree

Cerberus (or Why I did not cry havoc)

hound of heaven
dogs of war
to which does my
hand reach for?
one for chaos to
be unleashed
the other to pursue
me with lasting peace

turning to one
i bite my tongue
to be consumed
by Love’s release
the other returned
and so to burn
the devil’s dog
at Hade’s feast

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.13 – The 8 Slash 6 Cylinder Man

I have come to the conclusion that I fire on six cylinders.

The issue is that I am an eight cylinder man.

I can’t remember the last time I was firing on all of them.

They aren’t knocking yet, but it’s just a matter of time. There’s a lot of miles, hard ones, on the odometer.

It’s a wonder six are still firing. It makes it rather miraculous that I can make it through the day, let alone accomplish anything.

It seems I am pulling off on the side of the road to doze more often now. My mind knows where to go. I am just so tired and it takes so much fuel to figure out how to get there.

Others race by. Their exhaust exhausts me. Death is the end to this race. Why try to get there quicker?

Elegiac grips me until my mind spins.

Lethargy holds me down.

I am captured between the two, racing, yet going nowhere.

I am a six cylinder body with an eight cylinder mind.

Come close and you will catch the faint scent of burnt oil.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.12 – One Stroke at a Time

It is not that I have nothing to do or that I don’t have the time to do it.

It is that I don’t have the energy to do whatever it is I can or need to do.

My mind continues to swirl with a myriad of creative ideas. I know what I could be doing. I struggle to rise up from the depths.

Lethargy holds me down. I can only move against the weight of these two, which seems to increase the burden. I swim through a frozen sea, one clutching hand in front of the other.

I am learning to let go of the big picture, to take things one stroke at a time.

I place a piece of wood inlay there.

I write a word, sentence, paragraph, page here.

Suddenly, the craft is complete, the story written.

And for the briefest of moments, my dark-winged companions are lost in the pulsing waves behind me.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.11 – The Gift of Brokenness

The gift of depression is compassion. I look in the mirror everyday and know that I am broken.

Elegiac tells me that I should stay there, captured by this narcissistic reflection.

Yet to do so is to miss the truth that I see through a glass dimly, that “now I only see in part, then I will see in full.”

And that often my reflection as seen through the lens of depression is not how God sees me.

Knowing that I am broken can incapacitate me.

Or it can serve as the humble catalyst for me to show grace and mercy, compassion and gentleness, and above all, patience, to others.

Tonight, I will serve a meal to women whose lives have been upended in ways that leave me breathless. They are broken like me. Yet they are strong, so strong.

They are always gracious, kind, and encouraging and I always leave feeling like I have received more than I have given.

And for the briefest of moments, I do not feel the weight of Elegiac and Lethargy, my everpresent twins, upon my shoulders.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.10 – The Other Is Lethargy

I mourn the loss of the moments of lucidity.

When the words run like liquid gold. When joy envelopes me. When clarity ceases to be a mystery.

Then Elegiac spreads its wings and my vision falls once again into the shadows.

What I saw disappears and I am left wandering through the rest of the day stumbling like a blind man after elusive Braille.

I am so tired. Yet I cannot let go of what I thought I glimpsed beyond the veil.

Another winged companion joins Elegiac. It alights upon my other shoulder, a weight so heavy and cold that it seeps into the very marrow of my bones.

Its name is Lethargy.

Posted in Musings

Depression 1.9 – Swimming in Inadequate Sea

Part of the struggle is listening through the noise, the endless chattering of Elegiac and its kin.

The negative carries more weight than the positive. Criticism is easier to believe, to receive, over affirmation. My mind cycles through blow upon blow, Elegiac’s incessant pecking at my neck.

Elegiac likes to remind me of my inadequacies. Social Media plays on those with its endless notifications.

Did you post yet? Your friends haven’t heard from you in awhile.

Notifications remind me of what I am not getting done. Look at me. Click here. Go there.

So I have begun to remove myself from the sticky strands of the world wide web. I am scattered all over the place. Is it any wonder I do not feel whole? I have rediscovered the power of the delete button, the unsubscribe link, the cancel subscription choice.

I did not choose to have depression, but I do have a choice about what I will pay attention to. What I will participate in. Who or what I will follow. Where I will invest my life.

To ask the question, does this give me life?

Simply put, if something brings me down, bums me out, depresses me, enrages me, makes me feel inadequate, I must have the wherewithal to notice and then (newsflash!) stop doing it, listening to it, reading it, click, click, clicking on it!!

The constant clicking is what Elegiac would want me to do.

Yet I must resist.

I do not wish to desert the Master, to be led astray nip by subtle nip by distractions.

Can I honestly say each and every day as Simon Peter did,

“Lord, to whom would (I) go? Only You have the words of eternal life.”